Throughout this season, when asked about his plan for Trey Lance and whether the rookie quarterback will see increased playing time, Kyle Shanahan has maintained the same line.
He has said consistently that the 49ers always have a package for Lance to run. He also said if Lance hadn’t been injured against the Arizona Cardinals, that he would have played against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks later.
But Lance’s only action since that Cardinals game was in garbage time against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Monday, Shanahan broke down why he’s gone away from using Lance, who scored the 49ers’ first touchdown of the season on a pass to Trent Sherfield.
“We still always have that stuff up and always carry it, but it’s been more about me,” Shanahan said. “To tell you the truth, in terms of just calling plays, we get into a rhythm of attacking a defense and what fronts they’re playing, what coverages and so every play kind of plays off the next play and you get a feel. Our players do and I [get a feel] of kind of what we’re going to.”
Shanahan pointed towards the importance, for himself, of being able to identify defensive tendencies and get into a rhythm on knowing how a defense tends to react to pre-snap motions, formations and personnel.
He said he didn’t realize that shifting quarterbacks would make it difficult to feel out the defense.
“What’s been hard on me, that I didn’t realize, is when you do bring in a quarterback who gets a different set of plays, then it’s almost like it’s the first play seeing a new defense,” Shanahan said.
“Because now, yeah, you see what fronts the coverages are doing, but they’re doing it completely to plan for a threat as a runner at the position. So I don’t know what to anticipate with it. And then I’ve got to stay in it for a while to get a feel for that. And then when you go back, that feels kind of off for the last guy. So it kind of hurts my rhythm, a little bit, of understanding what the defense is getting. And that’s why I personally, as the year has gone, I’ve gotten a little bit more away from it because I like to get a feel for what that defense is doing.”